Giving back in Brandon

The Empanda Community Garden will soon be ship-shape and ready for planting vegetables thanks to help from the Community Payback scheme.

Community Payback is a scheme that allows offenders the opportunity to make amends for their crimes in their local communities by carrying out unpaid work on local projects such as re-decorating community centres, tidying public spaces and removing litter.

Community Payback is a part of a Community Order sentence, passed by Crown and Magistrates Court in England and Wales. It can also form part of a Suspended Sentence Order. Offenders can be sentenced to between 40 and 300 hours of unpaid work in the community, which must be carried out in their spare time. For those who are in employment, this could mean working at weekends or during their annual leave. Offenders who are unemployed can work three to four days a week.

Bryan Foster from Community Payback met with Sally Hanlin earlier today to assess the type of work needed to get the allotment to a stage when it would be ready for sowing seeds and planting vegetables. He told Sally that this was exactly the type of project that offenders enjoyed spending time on because it was for such a good cause and, when finished, would enable our day care customers and some of the adults with a learning difficulty that we support in the community, to participate in gardening activities.

Work is due to start in March to erect a perimeter fence, prepare beds, tidy paths and dig over the land in readiness for seed-sowing and vegetable planting. We very much look forward to seeing the new look allotment ready to start producing vegetables for the day centre café.


Empanda bags £2,000 from Tesco’s community grant scheme

Empanda Care & Support is delighted to announce it has bagged £2,000 from Tesco’s Bags of Help community grant scheme.

Bags of Help is run in partnership with environmental charity Groundwork, and sees grants raised from the sale of carrier bags awarded to thousands of local community projects every year. Since launching in 2015, it’s provided more than £40 million to over 9,700 local community projects.

Hundreds of shoppers voted in the Tesco Brandon store and Empanda has been awarded £2,000 for gardening tools and equipment to help get a Community Allotment Project off the ground and bring the project to life. The ‘Empanda Community Garden’ will grow produce for the community café in the Brandon Day Centre and will offer gardening and learning opportunities for older people using the day centre, adults with a learning difficulty and anyone interested in getting involved in the garden or in learning new skills and meeting new people.

Sally Hanlin, Empanda’s Managing Director, said, “We are delighted to have won this award and would like to thank all the shoppers at Tesco, Brandon, for choosing our project. We were very fortunate to have been gifted an allotment by the Brandon Allotment Association and the grant will help us transform the overgrown and unloved piece of land, into a thriving community garden which can be enjoyed by local people whilst helping to support the Day Centre. We are currently looking for volunteers with gardening experience to get involved with this project.”

Alec Brown, Tesco’s Head of Community, said, “Bags of Help has been a fantastic success and we’ve been overwhelmed by the response from customers. It’s such a special scheme because it’s local people who decide how the money will be spent in their community. We can’t wait to see the projects come to life.”

Voting ran in stores throughout September and October with customers choosing which local project they would like to get the top award using a token given to them at the checkout.

Tesco customers get the chance to vote for three different groups each time they shop. Every other month, when votes are collected, three groups in each of Tesco’s regions are awarded funding.

Groundwork’s National Chief Executive, Graham Duxbury said, “Bags of Help continues to enable local communities up and down the UK to improve the local spaces and places that matter to them. The diversity of projects that are being funded shows that local communities have a passion to create something great in their area. We are pleased to be able to be a part of the journey and provide support and encouragement to help local communities thrive.”

Funding is available to community groups and charities looking to fund local projects that bring benefits to communities. Anyone can nominate a project and organisations can apply online. To find out more visit



Empanda staff donate to Save the Children at Christmas

On behalf of Empanda and Save the Children, we would like to say a huge thank you to the Empanda staff team who voted to support those in need instead of receiving a company Christmas gift themselves.

We were touched by the amazing work being done by Save the Children who are working with refugees fleeing horrific treatment in Myanmar (formerly Burma), and working in Syria, Yemen and across East Africa. There are hundreds of thousands of people, many of whom are young children, often alone, who are seriously at risk.

The unanimous ‘yes’ vote to donate money in support of Save the Children has meant so much to the charity and we have since heard how our gift has changed lives and made a real difference to those in need of help.

Pictured here with a Save the Children member of staff at an outpatient clinic of Save the Children supported Griftu sub-county hospital, Wajir, Kenya, is six month old Abdigafar, one of the many children who has benefited from our support. Our gift has meant that he got the treatment he needed for pneumonia and was able to make a full recovery.

Click here to find out more about the emergencies Save the Children teams are responding to right now.

Oak Trees benefits from Appleyard Fayre Fundraising Event

Appleyard Fare, which is organised and run by volunteers to raise money for local good causes and charities, held its annual event on 22 July at the Banham Barrel. The Fayre, now in its twelfth year, was attended by about 1000 people from the local and wider community who came together to enjoy a variety of activities and attractions such as local arts and craft demonstrations, musical performances and good food and drink.

Our Oak Trees Respite Service was one of six beneficiaries to receive a share the £16,000 raised and at a ceremony on 4 October, Brian McAllister from the Banham Barrel, presented a cheque for £1,000 to some of our guests and service users.

The money we received will go towards the upkeep of a vehicle recently purchased for adults with a learning difficulty using the Oak Trees Respite and Supported Living services to enjoy trips out.

We are delighted to have been chosen as a beneficiary and are looking forward to being involved in next year’s event, which takes place on Saturday 28 July 2018.

Sam, Marcus, Ben and Stephen give Appleyard Fayre the thumbs up at the cheque presentation ceremony.

Blooming marvellous!

The Brandon Day Centre is set to become a riot of colour in 2018 thanks to the generosity of Brandon in Bloom who have donated bulbs to be planted in the grounds by our customers, staff and volunteers for everyone to enjoy.

The bulbs have come about as a result of a successful bid to the ‘Tesco Bags of Help’ Scheme by Brandon in Bloom, which was started by Rachel Sobiechowski, owner of P&R Garden Supplies in Brandon. The project, which received a grant of £3,000 in total, was the brainchild of local businessman Gary Brocklehurst, who’s aim was to plant one bulb for every resident of Brandon. The funding has enabled the purchase of some 26,500 spring flowering Dutch Masters daffodils, crocus, snowdrops, bluebells and wild garlic, to be planted in 32 areas around the town.

Rachel’s aim was to make the town as colourful as possible and attract wildlife, which makes the Brandon Day Centre a perfect setting. We have a small garden to the rear of the building that we hope to develop further to create a pleasant area for our day care customers to sit out when the weather allows. We are also putting up insect ‘hotels’, made by our day centre customers, as well as bird feeders to attract a range of wildlife visitors for all to enjoy.

The bulbs, which were collected by Day Centre Manager Andrea Burgess (pictured above), will be planted shortly in the garden and in pots to the front of the building by our customers, volunteers and staff. When the first flowers begin to emerge in January, they will bring a sense of optimism that winter is nearly over and the longer days and new life that comes with spring is about to begin. With the variety of bulbs being planted and with a bit of tender loving care, the Day Centre will be ablaze with colour from January through to mid-June.

Our customers and staff are truly grateful to be part of this wonderful and worthwhile project. On behalf of the Empanda team and our customers, we would like to thank Brandon in Bloom for your generosity. Your gift will give us all such pleasure next year and for many years to come and we can’t wait to see the fruits of our labour in a few months’ time.

To find out more about Brandon in Bloom’s Bags of Help success, click here

A very special delivery for the Brandon Day Centre

On 16 September, we were delighted to receive a cheque from funds raised by the Bell Hotel Bingo Buddies and the Anglo & American Bikers.

The Brandon Day Centre was nominated by relief driver John Sanders and was one of three organisations receiving a donation from the Charity Run.

The £525 cheque was delivered by a huge convoy of bikes and presented to Day Centre customer Bill Bishop who was accompanied by his wife. After welcoming everyone, Bill explained that the money will be spent on entertainment, activities and outings for people using the Day Centre in Brandon.

A huge thank you to John and his colleagues for organising the Bell Hotel Bingo Buddies Charity Run and for their generosity. And also, to Bill and his wife for representing Empanda and the Day Centre so well.

Empanda becomes a member of UK Men’s Sheds Association

We are delighted to be working on a new project – the creation of a ‘Men’s Shed’ Group in Brandon and as part of the process of getting the Men’s Shed Group up and running, Empanda has joined the Men’s Sheds Association.

Men’s Sheds groups offer socially isolated men a friendly and welcoming meeting place where they can come together to share their skills and knowledge with others, learn new skills or redevelop old ones, and have fun. For more information on Men’s Sheds, go to

It’s early days yet, and whilst we have the ‘shed’ in place, which is located within the grounds of the Brandon Day Centre, we are actively seeking funding opportunities to get the shed equipped and ready to go. We are now recruiting for a volunteer to co-ordinate this exciting new project, as well as volunteers willing to lead groups.

If you, or anyone you know might be interested in helping us turn this aspiration into a reality, then we’d love to hear from you. Please click here for further information.

Empanda’s Community Garden

Thanks to a request on behalf of Empanda by Brandon Town Council chair Peter Callaghan, Brandon Allotment Association has very generously offered Empanda an allotment to operate as a community garden. Situated next to the river, the allotments are surrounded by trees, grassland and an abundance of wildflowers, offering a tranquil retreat from the hustle and bustle of Brandon town.

Ben and Sally, accompanied by Peter Callaghan, met with Les Payne from the Allotment Association at the gardens earlier this week. Les explained that the committee has chosen a plot for Empanda that offers the easiest access for people reliant on wheelchairs or those who may find walking on uneven surfaces difficult.

Whilst the plot looks rather overgrown and wild, it was used as an active allotment up until last year, so the basic structure of beds and paths is there. With some cutting back, weeding and digging – and a lot of tender, loving care, our aim is to breathe new life into this space and transform it into a thriving community garden to be proud of.

Given we have missed this year’s planting season for many fruit and vegetables, in the early months, we will be focusing on preparing the garden and getting the soil ready for next spring. If we succeed in time, we may be able to get some onions, potatoes and Brussels sprouts started as they can be grown over the winter.

Les has very generously made us a bench with storage underneath for garden tools and, along with other allotment users, has offered us tools for our volunteers. Another allotment user has even offered to make us raised beds! Along with the tools, there are wheelbarrows that we can use when working on the allotment and we will benefit from the communal water tanks and a muck heap.

We have been overwhelmed by the generosity of the allotment committee and Les could not have made us feel more welcome. We are truly grateful for their support in helping us make this venture a success.

This is an exciting new project and a tremendous opportunity for Empanda. We are looking forward to recruiting a volunteer co-ordinator to take the lead in managing the community garden. We can then start organising groups of Empanda’s customers and welcoming the people of Brandon, young or old, who would like to spend time in the garden and meet new people, whilst learning new skills. Any produce grown will be used in the community café at the Brandon Day Centre where everyone will be welcome to come and try out the fruits (and vegetables) of our labour.

A dream come true as new vehicle is delivered

Thanks to an amazing level of support and generosity, adults with a learning difficulty using the Oak Trees Respite and Supported Living Services in Attleborough can now enjoy trips out in their newly delivered seven-seater vehicle.

We were very fortunate to receive financial support from the Mildred Tolman Fund, which is managed by the Norfolk Community Foundation. This, together with proceeds from fundraising events, donations from supporters, including local businesses and customers’ family members (who also organised fundraising activities), and top-up funding from Empanda, means we have been able to purchase a nearly new people carrier.

Having a vehicle makes such a difference and gives the people using our learning difficulty services lasting and happy memories of their time spent with us, which is so vitally important to their wellbeing and independence. They are now able to enjoy outings and trips out, including going to the cinema, swimming, bowling, going to restaurants/pubs and shopping trips.

Service users are absolutely delighted and here’s what they had to say on hearing the good news.


“We can reach the places now we haven’t been able to reach for a long time.” 
Ben – Supported Living

“It will be better because it will save me walking.
We can now go out to the seaside and to the pub.”
Julie – Respite Service Guest


“Having a car means more freedom to go out to places and then you can enjoy yourself even more.”
Lee – Supported Living


“From my own point of view it is really, really important for Oak Trees Respite Care to  have a new car to use every day of every year. Because of the fact that both me and all the other guests who come to stay at Oak Trees in Attleborough have not been able to go out anywhere that we would mostly like to go out and about to. It has been like that since April or May 2016 and I kept asking the staff when that would change and they said that they didn’t know which made me feel very upset indeed.

But more importantly, it is a true but very, very special blessing that Oak Trees Respite Care in Attleborough has now got a new vehicle, because that will most certainly mean that there will more days out outside of Attleborough. We can go bowling and to other activities.”
James – Respite Service Guest

We are truly grateful to everyone for your support in making this dream a reality – thank you.

Vehicle fund blossoms thanks to flower demonstration event

When Jane Morgan (mother of Oak Trees Respite Service guest James) heard that Empanda was fundraising for a vehicle for adults with a learning difficulty using our Oak Trees respite and supported living services, she and her mum wasted no time in planning an event to help.

Here, Jane shares her event experience …

“We wanted to put together an event that had real impact and a flower demonstration with afternoon tea was an immediate thought and something we were very familiar with.

With National Flower Demonstrators Melissa Sheldrake and Brenda Tubb offering to get on board free of charge, the event was off to a really good start and the planning of  ‘Name That Tune’ was underway.

Plenty of people came together to offer support including the Headmaster at Hethersett Old Hall School who kindly offered the use of the school barn for the event. All 80 event tickets sold and donations were given to support this worthy cause from those who were unable to attend.

As the event was near Easter weekend, to help boost funds even further, I knitted a number of Easter chicks and ‘eggy people’, all hiding a cream egg. I managed fifty-five items and all sold which was a relief and saved me from eating any leftover cream eggs!

I also gave myself the challenge of making a gingerbread Easter basket which I decorated and filled with chocolate eggs so that people could guess how many eggs it held. The filled basket was the prize. A friend also made a traditional Simnel cake for a ‘guess the weight of the cake’ competition.

The day finally arrives …

After weeks of careful planning, the event was finally upon us. Work started early in the morning for the hectic but enjoyable day ahead. A small army of helpers made sandwiches and cut cakes and I baked scones. The tables were set, the silver teapots stood to attention ready for filling and the cake stands were full.

The flower demonstration was spectacular, with arrangements created to depict different tunes, which the audience were challenged to guess, with a prize for the first correct answer. The arrangements doubled up as raffle prizes. Melissa and Brenda proved to be a very entertaining team and the final display on the stage was spectacular, with so many arrangements created in different styles. I think everyone who had a winning raffle ticket must have been pleased and I can’t thank Melissa and Brenda enough for their generosity. Planning a flower demonstration as ‘a one off’ takes a long time.

Serving afternoon tea was hectic but the team proved to be highly efficient. Robert, who loaned us the silverware, was a master at filling the teapots. He had already marshalled the cars in the carpark earlier in the day and took the role of MC for the afternoon. Multi-tasking is a necessary skill on these occasions!

We had some wonderful comments about the tea. Some people thought they would just get a cup of tea and a piece of cake, not a full meal, but the best comment was from an experienced afternoon tea guest who said “the tea was better than at the Ritz” – praise indeed and made the hard work all worthwhile.

A magnificent total of £1,350 was raised thanks to the support and generosity of so many people. From the ladies who baked and donated the cakes and worked so hard on the day; the people who loaned the china and teapots; Hethersett Old Hall School; Melissa and Brenda the demonstrators; the audience and most importantly, my mum, who was instrumental in selling the tickets as she has all the contacts!

We are really pleased in the knowledge that our contribution will take the fundraising total ever nearer to reaching its target – a new vehicle for adults with a learning difficulty using the Oak Trees Respite and Supported Living services to enjoy trips out.

And so to the future …

We are now looking forward to planning further fundraising events to enhance the lives of the people who use Oak Trees. I can’t thank the staff enough for the wonderful service they provide.”

Jane Morgan

Photo gallery